Sunday, February 17, 2013

VATICAN: Pope's Heart Surgery not reason for resignation

The Pope had a pacemaker fitted in a secret operation less than three months ago, the Vatican admitted on Tuesday.
Officials confirmed that Benedict XVI had undergone the surgery, but insisted that his heart condition had nothing to do with his decision to step down after eight years in office.

The pacemaker was a replacement for one which had been fitted about 10 years ago, before the Pope was elected John Paul II's successor in 2005.
The fitting of the new device was carried out by heart surgeons at the Pius XI medical clinic in Rome. The operation went so well that the Pope made a speedy recovery and did not even miss his weekly Angelus address.
"It had absolutely nothing to do with his decision to resign," said Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman.
Fr Lombardi confirmed reports that the Pope had decided to resign during an exhausting trip to Mexico and Cuba last March.
The resignation of a pope is so unusual - the last time it happened was 600 years ago - that the Vatican has still not decided what title the Pope will have once he leaves office. He also carries the official title Bishop of Rome, and therefore could be known as Bishop Emeritus of Rome, officials said.
It is unlikely he would adopt the title Pope Emeritus because that would give the impression, which the Holy See is desperate to avoid, that the Church has two popes.
It is also likely that the Pope's golden ring and official seal will be destroyed, as would happen in the case of a pontiff who had died.
As the Pope prepares to step down on Feb 28, more details emerged of the monastery within the walls of the Vatican that will become his retirement home.
The building housed a small group of nuns until last autumn, when renovations began to prepare it for its new resident. The four-storey building, known as the Mater Ecclesiae monastery, was built in 1992 and includes a chapel, a library, a kitchen, bedrooms and 12 monastic cells.
Nearby is a large vegetable garden where the Pope will have the help of a team of around 25 gardeners.
The Pope is expected to move into the monastery by the time his successor is elected, sometime in mid-March.
Today, he will make his first public appearance since announcing his resignation, when he presides over an Ash Wednesday service in St Peter's Basilica.


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